Home Tweaks for the New Year
Even though I've been practicing minimalism for a while, stuff creeps in. Maybe I buy something new or replace something old and neglect to remove the out-of-date or no-longer-loved item. But a quick and easy adjustment can put me back on a lighter, more streamlined path.
1. Use fresh eyes.
Go out your front door and reenter your home as a guest (or even a potential home buyer). Use a fresh, discerning eye to view the space. Consider your entry hall, living room, kitchen and dining area. Go down the hallway and enter your bedrooms and bathrooms, and the room where you gather as a family. Are you pleased with what you see?
Maybe a desk, table, or countertop needs some attention, or perhaps a closet or cupboard is overflowing its bounds a bit. Maybe you got some gifts for Christmas that haven't yet found permanent homes.
What can you tidy up, move elsewhere, or declutter? Does anything need repair? Take care of those items.
2. Evaluate holiday décor.
As you take down your Christmas tree and vacuum up all of the needles, consider not replacing whatever you moved out to make room for the tree. You've lived without whatever it is for several weeks – maybe you can do without it altogether.
As you box up ornaments and holiday décor, remember which items gave you a little thrill to discover and display this year, and which items inspired no such excitement. Maybe it's time to declutter a few things. Pass them on to other family members or put them in the donation box. Even once-a-year knickknacks should "spark joy."
3. Identify hot spots.
Hot spots are places where clutter tends to gather, over and over and over again. Mine is the dining table.
Maybe you have a desk that is the clutter magnet, and you need to add a basket for mail, or figure out how to pay bills more efficiently. Maybe the kitchen island or the top of the refrigerator tend to be gathering spots for stray items. Perhaps you need to add a kitchen bulletin board, or some hooks for jackets and purses. Maybe a large plant (it could even be artificial) on top of the fridge will discourage the accumulation of cereal boxes and serving platters.
How about your dresser or bathroom counter? Have you gotten a little lax about putting things away after you finish using them? Maybe you've inadvertently started collecting samples and giveaways again. You might need a better place to store jewelry as you remove it, or a tray for keys, rings, and your phone.
We all tend to become oblivious to what we see every day. That's why I like to swap around decorative items such as wall art, plants, framed photos, knickknacks, and toss pillows. Moving them to a different room makes them seem new, because in a different spot I suddenly notice them again. You might swap a chair in the bedroom for one in the living room, or maybe even put your bed or sofa on a different wall. This gives you a chance to clean baseboards and vacuum areas that have been neglected for a while, too.
Doing these swaps may not seem as fun as shopping for new décor, but it saves money and wastes fewer resources of all kinds. Plus, as Fiona Ferris points out in her book Financially Chic,* "You find hidden treasures which seem much more appealing when not surrounded by things you don't care about."
* This blog is reader-supported. When you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.
5. Banish staleness.
If it's not freezing outside, open the windows for a bit of fresh air. While I realize that bad weather may not make it worthwhile to clean the outside of the windows until spring, you can still clean the insides and the sills. Then open those curtains, and let in the light! Burn a citrusy candle, or make your own room spray with citrus essential oils. Craft a wreath with stems of eucalyptus – the scent is calming yet invigorating. Fresh air, fresh scents, and natural light will brighten and cleanse your space and your outlook.
I hope you feel some positive energy and satisfaction as you complete these simple home tweaks. Happy New Year!